The final prospect the Cubs should consider taking is Erik Miller. Miller was drafted out of Stanford in the 4th round in 2019 and is the Philadelphia Phillies’ 7th ranked prospect according to MLB. He is a left-handed pitcher who works primarily out of the bullpen. The Phillies made a world series run in 2022, and I don’t think they want to change much heading into 2023. They have a few holes to fill, but their bullpen was lights out in November. Miller, although highly ranked, does not seem to be in the future plans for the Phillies bullpen.
Pitching in both double-A and triple-A, Miller finished with a 3.54 ERA in 48 1/3 innings pitched. The 24-year-old appeared in 32 games with 25 of those games coming out of the bullpen. In those innings, he struck out 62 batters. The one concern here is the 31 walks he finished with in those innings. However, his control was actually very good in double-A, it is triple-A where he seemed to struggle with his locating. This may seem like a concern, but he has proven to have control of his pitches, and the triple-A issues do not look like something that will last.
After trading away a few relievers, the Cubs’ bullpen talent was scarce last season. Along with centerfield and first base, the bullpen should be at the top of the Cubs’ list of things to improve for 2023. According to Miller’s scouting report, he has three pitches he can mix in, and in shorter outings, his fastball can reach the high 90s. A left-handed pitcher who can reach back and pitch with some velocity is something the Cubs were lacking in 2022. If he can keep his walk rate down, but keep his strikeout rate high, he could be a real asset in the bullpen for the Cubs. Not to mention, hitters hit just .222 off him this past season and just .203 in his minor league career. The Cubs have a need in the bullpen, and to be honest, there is not much to choose from in free agency. Erik Miller is a good, young bullpen arm and the Cubs should definitely keep a close eye on him during the rule 5 draft.
HONORABLE MENTION: Garrett Acton (RHP, Oakland Athletics), TJ Sikkema (LHP Kansas City Royals), Antoine Kelly (LHP Texas Rangers), Kameron Misner (OF Tampa Bay Rays), Michael Helman (UT Minnesota Twins)